100th Post and a late review…

Interesting timing I suppose…my 100th post was going to be about the Return to Forever show at the Greek Theatre last month.

And, in I suppose that I’ll get to that in due course here in this post.  But, first I guess I should explain how my “Big Week” of concerts changed right after the BNL show reviewed in post 99.  The day between BNL and RTF I received a call that my sister in Texas was gravely ill and not likely to survive the night.

Unable to get there (I thought) in time, I booked the first flight I could with some miles to leave Wednesday morning, and I still attended the show at the Greek.  Then, I spent all of the next day flying and driving.  Getting to Cushing, Texas sometime after midnight the next day.  To make a long story short, my sister made an amazing recovery that the doctors couldn’t really explain.  I stayed a week and by the time I left she was pretty much back to where she had been prior to her hospitalization.  I, on the other hand was somewhat worse for the wear and off my game for a few days.  Now, I”m finally getting back to catch up on things like missing blog posts.

Why do I mention this?  Well, I feel a certain responsibility to uphold my promises and I promised (anyone reading and myself) to review each show I attended.  So, now that things are finally somewhat back to normal…I figured I’d get back to it and catch up on the RTF show.

RTF IV and Zappa Plays Zappa – September 20, 2011 – Greek Theatre

I had a long standing plan to go to this show with one of my best friends since we were about seven years old, Dave.  He’s a huge fan of RTF and we’ve both listened to them since we were teenagers.  We set out early (for reasons I’ll explain in a bit) and stopped at Olivera Street for a great lunch before arriving at the Greek around 4pm.  The reason we were so early is that a friend of mine was the LD (Lighting Director) for the tour and he’d invited us up to see the soundcheck!  Sure enough, he met up outside and hung an “all access” pass around our necks and in we walked to the strains to RTF warming up.

But, it wasn’t that we got to hear them…we followed my friend up to his console where he was programming….on stage…about 10′ from Chick Corea….

Yep…I was on stage while a group of some of the best jazz musicians who ever played did their soundcheck.  They finished checking and my friend called Chick Corea over and introduced us.  So, now I’m talking to Chick Corea….and posing for a photo….

Me with Chick Corea

Well, I pretty much could have gone home happy at this point….

We listened to Zappa plays Zappa soundcheck and hung out with my friend and caught up while he gave us a tour of the backstage areas in the dark time before the house opened and the first band played.

Let me say, Zappa plays Zappa was a huge surprise to me.  They were amazingly good young musicians.  I’m not a huge Zappa expert, but I knew a few of the pieces they played…”Dancin Fool”, “St Alfonso’s Pancake Breakfast” and “King Kong” which featured Chick Corea out as a guest of the band.  I have to say that their engineer Glynn did one of the best mixes I have ever heard in that venue.  It was spot on perfect, as was the band.  A huge surprise I would go back and see them again in a heartbeat.

Return to Forever was up next and they didn’t disappoint.  I can’t say I’m a jazz expert or that I even listen to a huge amount on a regular basis.  But, their album “Romantic Warrior” has been a favorite of mine since the 70’s.  The history of the players alone is just staggering.  Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Chick Corea would likely each be in a top five (ten?) list of greatest players ever on their respective instruments.

Here’s their setlist:

Medieval Overture
Senor Mouse
Sorceress / Shadow of Lo
After the Cosmic Rain
Romantic Warrior
School Days

The last two pieces being amazing jams, as you can see in this clip of Spain: (It also give you a taste of my friend’s work on the lighting for the show)

I can’t get totally specific on the technical merits of each player or composition….all I can say is it was a honor to see such a talent group of musicians all on one stage at one time.  And excellent musical evening was helped along by the phone call that I received mid show that my sister was improving.

So, a darn good night all around….good music, good friend and good news all at the same time.


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